(BERLIN, CT.) When the late Joe Tinty decided to bring the sport of
auto racing to Plainville, CT. during the busy post-war era, it’s
doubtful that he envisioned the definitive mark it would leave on
New England modified racing.
The roster of stars that won on the demanding and almost
pancake-flat little ¼-miler until it’s untimely closure in the early
1980s reads literally like a “who’s-who” of modified racing. Many of
those drivers are members of the prestigious New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame.
Added to that lofty list are a group of Saturday night regulars that
were some of the toughest in the business. Guys like Dave Alkas, Don
Moon, Reggie Ruggiero, Stan Gregor, Bob Vivari, and so-many more
became household names for those of us that followed modified racing
in Connecticut. It was never an easy-feat for anyone to score a
victory at Plainville.
In just a couple of weeks on Saturday, October 13th, everyone gets a
chance to relive some great memories when the Fourth Annual
Plainville Stadium Reunion takes center stage.
Originally christened Tinty's Flying Ranch, Plainville Stadium
opened in 1948 hosting motorcycle racing and horse shows rather than
stock car racing. Within a short period, the coupes were bought-in
to do battle on a rudimentary dirt oval that would be paved very
quickly. Successful local businessman the late Joe Tinty developed
the property in the years following World War II to provide a place
for family entertainment after people suggested to him that such a
venue “would add to the area.”
Himself slated for induction into the New England Auto Racing Hall
of Fame this year, the colorful Bristol furniture store owner was
born in North Haven and wanted to return to the favor to people who
helped him during his long career in local commerce.
Recently, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, esteemed auto
racing journalist Pete Zanardi recalled some of his experiences
during Plainville’s glory years in the 1960s.
“Regrettably, though I didn’t get to cover Plainville often, I do
recall several things about the place,” states Zanardi. “It
stood-out in many ways when compared to the other tracks in the
area. One of the first things you noticed was just how-flat the
track surface was, and that a huge premium was placed on handling.
With the exception of the big mid-week open shows that Tinty hosted,
the place almost seemed to exist out of the mainstream of racing in
the area. There was a truly-great group of regular competitors and
fans that contributed to the tracks success. It was a unique place
and it’s truly understandable why interest in Plainville history
remains high today.”
Not unlike Zanardi, Plainville also left an impression on a young
race fan that would go-on to become one of the premier auto racing
writers in the country.
It all began at Plainville for Connecticut native Bones Bourcier.
The author of several best-selling books on the sport as-well as
contributing to a vast array of racings top publications, he has
fond memories of his first exposure to modified racing.
“The first automobile race I ever saw in person was a regular
Saturday-night program at Plainville Stadium capped by a 50-lap
Modified feature,” stated Bourcier recently from his home in
Indianapolis, Indiana. “Dave Alkas won that night in Roland Cyr’s
#54 coupe. So you can imagine how humbling it was for me that when
Dave was voted into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame, I was
able to give his induction speech. On a shelf behind my writing
desk, there’s a chunk of asphalt from Plainville, given to me by
Dave and Paula Alkas. It’s just a black piece of pavement, but to me
it’s priceless. So many of my earliest racing heroes drove across
that very same asphalt.”
He continues, “I’ve often wondered about this: In all of the towns
in that area – Plainville, New Britain, Meriden, Waterbury,
Cheshire, Southington – there must be hundreds of kids as restless
as I was as a teenager. What do those kids do on Saturday nights?
How do they stay out of trouble? And how many guys like me had their
lives steered in positive directions by Plainville Stadium?”
Again, on Saturday, October 13th the Nutmeg Kart Club in conjunction
with the Berlin Lions Club World of Wheels presents the Fourth
Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion. It takes-place from 10am – 3pm at
the Berlin Fair Grounds located 430 Beckley Road, East Berlin, Ct.
Also on the agenda is a full schedule of Go Kart competition on New
England’s only WKA Dirt Master track. Races include an “Old-Timers”
race for former Plainville competitors in addition to events for
IROC Juniors, Officials, Mechanics, and a “Powder-Puff Derby” for
the ladies. The appearance of several vintage race cars adds to the
days festivities. The New England Antique Racers (NEAR) mobile Hall
of Fame display is also expected to be present.
Coming-off another successful season of competition on the Berlin
Lions Club 1/12-mile World Karting Association dirt oval, the two
organizations have teamed to make the day a family-priced event.
Adult admission is only $5.00, with kids under-12 free.
The rain date is Sunday, October 14.
For more information, contact Gary Beinkowski of the Nutmeg Kart
Club at email@example.com